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How Apropos: Error Seals Tigers' $18 Million Pact

With an almost ironic fielding error by Royals third baseman Alex Gordon last night, Detroit saw their worst financial nightmares confirmed: The Tigers will have to pay declining outfielder Magglio Ordonez a whopping $18 million next year.

Ordonez, who was platooned and benched earlier in the season as he struggled through a slump, has used a second-half long hot stretch to reach the standardized benchmarks set up to trigger the final, albatross season of his Detroit deal. The money in his contact makes it just about absolutely impossible to trade the one-time slugger, with Ordonez's declining productivity making such a prospect more difficult as well.

Despite career averages of .311/.371/.512, Ordonez's 2009 dip in form could be a sign his best seasons are all behind him. Just take his slugging as a tell-tale sign of Ordonez's steep decline. Long a consistent power-hitting outfielder, Ordonez hit more than 20 home runs in each of the prior three seasons. This year, he's hit only seven. That's right, seven. And it's taken an on base percentage of .438 in the second half just to get Ordonez's 2009 numbers up to the respectable splits of .294/.365/.402.

So, what's so bad about spending $18 million on an outfielder who could -- at least in theory -- rebound with a more productive 2010? It's all about how that limits other things Detroit could do in the offseason. Committing $18 million in one place should greatly reduce the team's chance of retaining power closer Fernando Rodney or former All-Star second baseman Placido Polanco.

That's not to say that Detroit won't find a way to wheel and deal its way into greater flexibility, and the return of Rodney, Polanco and others. Instead, Ordonez's vesting option just means that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski will have to be incredibly creative to free up money to spend this winter.

By Cameron Smith  |  September 16, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  Tigers  | Tags: Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, contracts  
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Next: Moment of Levity: The Big Picture


I have no idea how an error by a Kansas City third baseman is going to cost Detroit $18 million. Is that explained anywhere in this article?

Posted by: markfromark | September 17, 2009 5:21 AM | Report abuse

Yes, given the title and hook of the piece, it would be nice to understand how the error cost Detroit $18 million. Did Ordonez score a run on the error and the number of runs was one of the benchmarks he had to clear? One can only speculate.

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | September 17, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

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